Tips & Advice

Staying safe in a connected world

Reuters Plus and Avast, 11 August 2018

Dark forces more than ever want to steal your digital info – embrace the tools to keep you safe online.

Between ransomware, data breaches, cryptojacking, supply chain attacks, and mobile malware, it’s never been more important to protect your digital life.

At a time when we are more reliant on technology than ever, a time when attackers are employing innovation, organization, and sophistication against us to uncover new vulnerabilities and escape detection, effective precautions are a must.

We’re not just talking about making sure your computers and mobile devices are safe every once in a while. We’re talking about making digital safety part of your technology routine. We’re talking about blowing up everything you thought you knew about cybersecurity, embracing a brand-new strategy designed to offer more protection than ever before, and making that new approach part of your life. For the long-haul.

Consider these jarring statistics:

1. Global cybercrime is generating revenues of $1.5 trillion a year, according to a 2018
study.

2. Cyberattacks take a huge toll on small businesses—and the threat is growing.

3. PDFs—which pretty much everybody uses to exchange information—are the most
commonly targeted file type by insider threats, according to Cisco.

4. Software update supply chain attacks—which implant malware into an otherwise-
legitimate software package—are growing in both size and impact.

What’s more, data from a number of industry sources indicates the year 2017 saw a 54 percent increase in the number of mobile malware variants.

Three years ago, Ginni Rometty, IBM’s chairman, president and CEO, said, “Cybercrime is the greatest threat to every company in the world.” Her words still hold true today. In short, staying on top of your own cybersecurity is no longer a luxury. It’s an everyday necessity.

Focus big and small

Because our reliance on technology is so comprehensive, because threats target vulnerabilities in a number of different ways, our need for cyber safety crosses niches. This means we need products that secure Internet surfing, protecting browsers from malware and spoofing and vanquishing dangerous and annoying extensions and toolbars.

It also means we need products that are traditionally “anti-virus,” turned on all of the time, scanning emails, email attachments, and chat windows for potential attacks.

Securing your digital life incorporates more nuanced tools, as well.

Like tools that encrypt everything you send and receive. And password managers that keep all your accounts protected with one unbreakable password. And protections for smartphones and mobile devices from malware and other nefarious apps—especially “greyware” that isn’t malicious but can be troublesome in other ways.

Finally, as our society adds connectivity to everyday items by expanding the Internet of Things (IoT), we need to guarantee that our privacy and personal data will be safe, and that IoT will not be vulnerable to spreading attacks.

The best approach

There are two ways to approach security in the modern era. One is to be reactive—to respond to threats only after they become apparent and publicized. The other is to be proactive, to update devices immediately and lock down your digital life consistently, even when there are no apparent threats.

Naturally, the proactive approach is superior. The very best of these approaches combine big data with artificial intelligence to identify and destroy cyberthreats in real-time so you can connect with confidence any time, from anywhere. A handful of software solutions, including Avast, are leading this category.

Many of these solutions call upon the computing power and oversight of hundreds of thousands of user machines to stay one step ahead of attackers.

At the end of the day, as connected devices continue to proliferate, the best ways to protect your digital life are proactive, comprehensive, unobtrusive, and easy-to-use. The tools are out there. Embrace them before it’s too late.

Previously published on Reuters Plus website.